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High-skilled good, low-skilled bad, says new UK migration report

The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) says the UK should let in more immigrants - but only if they earn more than £30,000 a year.

What it means: The MAC, which isn’t part of any political party, tells the government what their migration policies should be. They’ve just released a report on what we should do with our borders after Brexit, and it’s not good news for so-called ‘low skilled’ foreign workers. (Nobody ever really defines what ‘low-skilled’ is, but it tends to be used to describe jobs that don’t require any special training or education).  

MAC reckons the UK has about 870,000 low-skilled workers, who are mostly from the EU and work in everything from farms to factories to hospitals and care homes. MAC says that these people have done a really great job of boosting the bits of our economy that they work in but that those bits are ‘not necessarily the parts of the UK economy that we want to be growing’.

It’s not clear what MAC has got against fruit picking or looking after old people, but it is clear what their beef is with low-skilled workers. They say the government has to spend too much money on them, through things like welfare benefits, and that they make things worse for locals by pushing their wages down. (Btw, that’s a controversial opinion. Plenty of others say that things like the financial crisis and industrial decline are bigger causes of low wages and immigrants are just the scapegoat).

But MAC is not completely anti-immigration. It thinks high-skilled migrants are pretty awesome and ‘bring clear benefits to the UK’. MAC wants the government to scrap its limit on Tier II visas, which is currently 20,700. Tier II visas are only given for graduate jobs which pay more than £30,000 a year. The median UK salary - that’s the salary of the person who has exactly the same number of people earning more and less than them - is £28,677.

But lots of business bosses are annoyed about the MAC report. They say restricting low-skilled workers will make it hard for them to fill jobs because Brits don’t want or know how to do the work. But the report is very similar to things the government has already said it wants with post-Brexit migration, so it’s likely to become policy.

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Reader Comments

  • RW

    Your right to a degree. You mentioned “the wandering Jew”.

    I elaborate that the Jewish people, historically have tended to migrate almost exclusively to locations that are economically and culturally vibrant already. I would speculate that Jews have thrived in these places and have often improved the bounds of their economies and knowledge base.

    You can also ask; how many massive entertainment conglomerates, Nobel winners or billionaires has Isreal developed? If Jews are so capable, why isn’t Tel Aviv the Rome of our time?

    Jews are successful because they value education, maintain a strong social cohesive, they actively monitor and have a good sense for Zeitgeist wherever they are and they carefully choose the places they settle and congregate themselves heavily in these choice locations.

    But most importantly (haulocaust increased the importance of this aspect), they actually designed their culture for success. They not only attend Harvard, they use what they learned to better the group as a whole. With as much, they studied intricate networking systems, adapted to it and in many cases improved upon them. (See how Japan acquired Aegis warships and made them better).

    Of course there is nothing wrong with any of this. It’s when you elaborately gain disproportionate power in any society where you would stand out, you must take care when attempting to make a society better (Civil Rights movement) and rewriting that society all together (mass immigration). Ask blacks in China, Mexico, Philippines or India how much opportunity they have? Go to businesses owned by their American diaspora and see how many blacks they hire. Go to Silicon Valley and see how many East or South Asian tech workers wish they could work with more black people. California might work as a state, but as a nation, I think your rolling the nuclear dice here. I hope we can succeed as a tolerant pluralistic superpower but at this stage in human societal development, it’s a pipe dream.

    And if Jews really are the icon for success, they would see that fundamental human successes happen over generations. Just look at the rest of the planet? Are we ready?